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Health Center: Dealing with Procrastination
In college there are many demands on your time: friends, homework, extracurricular activities, classes, that new video game. At one time or another who doesn’t procrastinate? But there can be serious consequences if you put things off too long. In order to avoid some of that last minute stress there are a few simple things that can be done now.
1. Prioritize your schedule!
If you have a sense of what is important and what is not, in a crunch you can let some things go and put them off. When you’re prioritizing two important things, think about due dates, significance, and the consequences of putting it off. If you have a term paper due in two days, and a quiz in one day, it’s usually more important to focus on the term paper, because it will likely have more of an impact on your final grade.
2. Avoid procrastination!
Several elements often combine to cause procrastination. Those who procrastinate academic work typically have some inaccurate thoughts or beliefs that keep the procrastination cycle alive. They are:
Overestimating the amount of time left to perform tasks
Underestimating the amount of time needed to complete tasks
Overestimating future motivation, such as, “I’ll be more motivated tomorrow,” or, “I’ll go out tonight, but tomorrow I’ll really buckle down and write that paper.” Is that really true?
The thought that you perform better under pressure. “Oh I always do my best work at four in the morning, the day before something is due.”
3. Tips for avoiding procrastination
Know when you’re procrastinating and what you do when you procrastinate. Do you clean, watch TV, talk on the phone, avoid your house?
What is the underlying cause? Is it lack of interest, lack of relevance, evaluation anxiety, self-doubt, being unsure of expectations, just feeling overwhelmed?
After you identify some causes for procrastination, how do you fix them?
Break down larger tasks into smaller ones so they don’t feel so overwhelming
Think of the consequences for delaying action
Just do SOMETHING! Chances are once you get started with something, no matter how small, your motivation will return.
Set realistic goals!
Reward yourself for accomplishing your goals. It doesn’t have to be something big, just something you enjoy, like a hot bath, going out for a cup of coffee, watching a favorite TV show. Find whatever works for you, and good luck!